A sketel can be defined as:
A promiscuous female
A woman whose character is defamed and shamed through misogynist and sexist interpretations of her body that express a particular [patriarchal] social order based on the devaluing of women.
Carnival gives us so much insight into our society and ourselves. I could not help but notice the desire for masqueraders to parade for the spectacle of Samsung selfies over the creation of spectacle for street spectators, onlookers who came to see the “The Greatest Show in the World”. I could not help but think of the narrative that Carnival is a revolutionary space for sexual liberation; however, freedom always finds a way to (re) define a particular feminine ideal – think High Heel Masqueraders and Mobile Make-Up stations.
All in all people have the freedom to express themselves, pay dey money and play mas – that is not my quarrel. What I am here to do is speak through the traditions – Kerwin Du Bois’ Bacchanalist, Ricardo Drue Vagabond, big brother of Destra Garcia Lucy, great grandson of Drupatee Ramgoonai Chatnee Soca and Calypso Rose Fire In Me Wire. I, local sketel, am outraged.
I am outraged when a foreign sketel, Amber Rose has paid press coverage in her “tour-de-Port-of-Spain”, stars on the front page on a national newspaper, is put to stand/dance/wine/pose next to Machel Montano, Carnival King, as if there is equivalence in their achievements. I’ve heard about a trophy wife but it must take a Trini to invent a trophy tourist.
Amber Rose, American hip-hop celebrity, transformed her early story of performing striptease under the name of “Paris” to the spotlight of modeling, cultural entrepreneurship and major endorsements that landed her the money, Kanye and Wiz. The thing is, our obsession with Amber is not just the career-we-don’t-really-know-about; not just her beautiful gold boil egg shaped bald head; and bumcee photos/vines for the “amazing lives” of Instagram followers; our obsession is that she is a sketel from the United States of America – a foreign sketel. Thanks to the Daily Express [Wednesday 18th February 2015] we now know that foreign sketel does make Front Page in this “post “colonial island of Trinidad and Tobago. So, in our colonized and Americanized minds, Amber Rose represents “we reach” in the global village where validation always comes from outside.
Local sketel does make page 9, page 10, and make dustbin paper that is never published. When local sketel make front-page papers, she getting shame. Isn’t that a damn shame? Carnival 2015 has offered us key examples of how our T&T treats local sketels. Take for example, the current legal conflict between West Indian cricketer Lendl Simmons and Therese Ho. In a society that does not have provisions to deal with “revenge pornography”, legislation on confidentiality and privacy insufficiently treats “sharing pictures with de boyz” as a crime. The lack of legislation allows for us to drown in the sea of irrelevant [insert: Facebook Comment] discussions that silence crimes against women when we retreat to the rum talk: “one night ting” “she trying to bring man down” “shez not he gyal”. Kinda shocked Chris Brown did not come down for Trinbago Carnival #Loyal. The only message this sends to the nation, as my academic mentor made clear to me over coffee – women are unprotected in T&T and they are also unprotected by the State. Now de local sketel have to get injunction, have to dodge the hate mail, have to make front page with yuh picture and name there and because she last name perfect for Kaiso, while we watch de man play cricket for the world to see. Dis local sketel know however that off-the field, you cannot support him…
Too many local sketels to talk about but dey “snapshottin” de local sketel more and more…so I go talk about the last local sketel who make front page. Ravina Rampersad is the local sketel Trinidad and Tobago loves to hate. In a country that glosses over its racial divisions and subscribes to class pretensions Dr. Keith Rowley was guilty of being an African (‘black’) man dancing with Ravina Rampersad an Indian woman. Bringing up her age, as bloggers did, only explained the gender ideologies that confine women’s sexuality and young women’s sexuality and Indo-Trinidadian women sexuality. So, the local sketel knew that de ole talk was more than just a politicized affair; it in fact was racialised and gendered. Bringing up a functionalist interpretation of family and trying to locate the picture with Dr. Rowley and “de way his wife must be feel” further tells us how much we are alien to the peculiarities of Caribbean culture. Thank you Mr. Ivan Kalicharan for speaking up and the rest of Facebookers with a conscience who knew that that beating up on a 17 year-old in cyber space was more evidence of our collective schizophrenia and politics of the day than declining moral values in Trinidad and Tobago.
The truth of the matter is that you have the right to wine, look sexy, bruk out half naked, and take pictures regardless if you choose not to carry yourself that way as an individual. On the contrary, we do not have the right to shame, send hate mail, and divide our people against each other because of our prejudice.
For this reason, I with the page 9 sketel and the front-page local sketels who on trial in the court of public patriarchal opinion, dis Carnival.
Now, H. Y. M. C
…Have Your Mind Checked
For those interested in following more on the Caribbean feminist and gender justice scene – take een:
1. Dr. Gabrielle Hosein, University Lecturer (my supervisor and mentor) – grrlscene
2. Dr. Tonya Haynes, University Lecturer and Founder – CODE RED for gender justice!